Our personal encounters with film photography always differ with each other. Some meet the film camera with genuine curiosity, some as love-at-first-sight, and some could be initially intimidated by the technicalities. Regardless of how we encountered film, there's one thing that's for certain: we shoot for ourselves. We shoot for art, we shoot for work -- yet let's not forget to shoot photographs for ourselves. Lomographer Amanda Creamer, a.k.a. acreamer, treats her own work as an autobiographical documentary capturing the moments and details - big and small - found in real life. And through her work, we are reminded to capture the priceless fleeting moments that we will treasure forever.
Welcome to Lomography Magazine, Amanda! How are you lately as a photographer?
Hello and thank you, it’s an honor to be featured in Lomography Magazine. As a photographer, I’ve been quiet and also working to keep growing and learning. Quiet in keeping my work mostly to myself and not sharing my recent work publicly. I’ve been keeping things simple and in working toward my goal to grow as a photographer I have been doing a 365 on film—taking one film photo each day for a year—and I’m just about halfway through that project. Some days it’s difficult to push myself to take even one photo and other days I’m a little more inspired and take more than one photo. Any “extra” photos beyond my 365 images I take with my DSLR in keeping with the 365 guidelines I’ve set for myself.
How did you get into film photography?
I’m not exactly sure of all the events that led me to get into film photography. About 26 years ago when I was in 8th grade I shot a roll of black and white film for the school yearbook and remember being in the darkroom and seeing my image slowly appear on my print while in the tray of chemicals. I didn’t have much involvement with photography until about 12 years later when my first child was born as I wanted to capture her as well as my other children born later, and that was all on digital. Perhaps 10-12 years later I became interested in film photography. I was doing some client portrait photos for about 7 years and several 365’s all on digital. I would see the film work of other photographers and was inspired by it and also wanted to try something a little different and maybe give myself a new challenge. Even though I grew up in the era of film photography I had no idea what I was doing. Just like with digital photography I read lots of articles and watched videos to try to learn.
At first, it was so challenging for me that I kind of gave up and didn’t do a lot with film. Now, more recently—probably within the past two years—I’ve become more interested in film as a way to cope with intense mental health struggles. It gave me a type of photography somewhat different to try and also serve as a form of personal expression. I grew to embrace the “imperfection” (at least it looks like imperfection to me after so many years of digital photography having a much more polished and different look) and the unpredictability of not being able to instantly look at the screen on the back of the camera. I also felt like my personal journey to grow in being an authentic person also had many parallels to film photography as I’m not able to see instant results and “perfect” a shot at the moment.
Those things inspired me to learn more about film and gave me a desire to grow in film photography—I certainly have a lot to learn. With the ongoing expense of developing film and my growing interest, I was inspired to begin developing and scanning my own 35mm color film at home. This began as a way to keep my costs down and I also learned that it gave me more creative control of the entire process as well as the immense satisfaction of being a part of the whole process from the click of the shutter clear through to see the image as a positive on my computer screen. For me, it has been a personal growth journey that involves much more than just photography.
In your bio, you stated you work with therapeutic photography. May you share to us more details about this and how you work on the genre?
In an effort to explain the purpose, intent, and interest in my personal photography I felt the category of therapeutic photography—photography that is healing, promotes growth, restores health—best explained my work. I didn’t know this when I began taking pictures but have learned that for me photography is a personal expression that I often use when I have no words. Due to my mental health struggles, I frequently find myself either unable to speak audibly, unable to find words adequate to explain my experience, or both of these at once. For me, the foundation of therapeutic photography is knowing my photography equipment well so that I can be in the present moment which gives me more of an ability to notice my thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. I practice therapeutic photography through observing my surroundings and I often practice what I call “looking for light.” I notice the way light shines on and through people, objects, plants, and anything around me.
Often, my practice of therapeutic photography involves relating to and expressing my current struggles which can help to process some of the pain and suffering by giving me a way to express myself especially when I’m not able to speak or use words. And sometimes I write some words to go with my images—that has been a common practice for me with my 365 on film and other projects. I have shared my images in the hope that others may relate and they might also provide some understanding, hope, and/or comfort for people who see them. One way for me to sum up my practice of therapeutic photography is allowing photography to be whatever I need it to be for me in order to cope at the moment. Sometimes that involves keeping things simple and basic and sometimes I try something a little more challenging or use creative experimentation.
We love the 'slide of life' theme that can be generally seen in your photographs! What subjects do you usually find 'photo-worthy'?
Thank you so much! I often capture things most people would generally overlook as—things I overlooked before my strong interest in photography. For me, it has a lot to do with light and the interest it conveys and the story it seems to tell. I used to capture my children a lot and still do sometimes but have seen more recently that most of my photos don’t have people in them. I’ve been drawn to plants especially since we’re in warmer seasons now. I can be mesmerized by everyday scenes around the house—I’ve enjoyed a “kids were here” series I’ve been shooting for quite some time where I capture evidence that my children have had a presence in and around our home.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I don’t really know that I have one specific photographer that inspires me. Honestly, I love seeing the work of many different photographers and lean more toward being inspired by documentary, real life, and also nature photography. I enjoy looking at the work of other photographers online. Recently, in an effort to keep things as simple and manageable as possible for myself I’ve used social media a lot less and have relied more on photography blogs and have been very inspired by the images shared on the Lomography site. Seeing the photos shared on Lomography has given me new inspiration as I had grown weary of the more polished, “technically perfect” type of digital photography I started out with and still saw some of that within film photography. I suppose I felt I couldn’t live up to the “technically perfect” standards and maybe that’s why I was drawn to the more creative side of Lomography. Another thing that inspires me is light. The “looking for light” practice definitely inspires me to keep shooting and seeing how ordinary things can look extraordinary with some beautiful light giving interest and telling a captivating story. Honestly, the mundane of everyday life can be inspiring for me—the fact that I don’t have to look too hard to find beauty, objects, or scenes of interest and I can do this right in my own home or my own yard. I don’t have to travel to find inspiration.
What are you up to next?
My main goal is to continue with my 365 on film and develop the rolls of film that are collecting on my desk. I’ve been considering sharing that project publicly online but don’t have the details worked out for that yet. I hope to do some more writing about therapeutic photography and share more of my images on my blog. I’ve even thought a little about someday writing a book/eBook about therapeutic photography possibly from a “how-to” or sharing tips perspective for those interested in utilizing therapeutic in their life or healing journey. I’ve also had the idea of using some of my images to create cards with simple and uplifting messages to show true encouragement, support, and understanding. These last two items are definitely ideas that will probably take more time and planning for the future. After needing to take a break from sharing recent work I do hope that I will be able to get back to sharing more of my work publicly sometime soon.